Pressing the Panic button: Where do the Ateneo Blue Eagles go from here?

By Eriko dela Cruz

*Before we begin, I would like to apologize as I would not be talking about the game that much. We all have our analyses and speculations about it. What’s more pressing is the cryptic post-game interview of Coach Tab Baldwin.* 

After Ateneo lost their first game against the La Salle Green Archers in five years, Ateneo head Coach Tab Baldwin had very spicy words directed toward his players.

He talked about something along the lines of “self-imposed composure” and doing things as a team that are going to be extremely detrimental to their capability of vying for a championship.

We all know coach Tab. He doesn’t talk about titles. He always says that his priority is preparing his players to be the best he can so they can make it to the professional ranks, and winning titles would be a happy bonus of doing that. Now, all of a sudden, he is talking about gunning for a title this season? This would be the first time he openly talked about it since taking over in 2016. This is certainly uncharacteristic of him.

Finally, he ended it by saying that if they don’t fix said “self imposed composure” issue, then we should just be looking at Season 86.

For the average Ateneo fan, there might be two questions that come to mind after that media scrum:

  1. What in the blue hell is Coach Tab talking about? And
  2. Is this the time to panic?

Call me overdramatic, but when the head coach of your basketball team says something like that, you are bound to overthink this. As we were about to go home, my sister, one of the biggest Ateneo fans I know, told me:

Kuya, start na ng downfall ng Ateneo.

I scoffed at the idea. After all, Coach Tab is the greatest basketball mind currently in the country, and produces pro-ready players better than any coach on any level of play in the country. But after hearing about coach Tab’s statement, it made me pause; was my sister right in saying that? Is this really the crash after the rise of the Ateneo Blue Eagles?

Before I get hunted by former Blue Eagles and team administrators AGAIN, I am here to say that NO, this is not the time to panic.

The way I see it, they need to just go back to their roots. Try to see how they became very successful as a program to begin with. To quote a great Okinawan man, Inside you have strong root. No need nothing except what inside you to grow.

This team is looking for their identity. Comparing the current Blue Eagles to possibly the greatest UAAP team of all time is a very high bar to clear. Almost all of the pieces from the season 80-82 championship are gone, and they are the next men up. As coach Tab said, the adjustment has to come from them. If their roots are strong, then they would respond to Coach Tab’s challenge well and thrive. If the roots are weak, then maybe it’s time to just really look forward to next season as he suggested.

But I don’t believe their roots are weak. Far from it. The Blue Eagles have been through far greater ordeals, and came out the other side tougher.

Oh, and I choose to believe what I told my sister after that downfall remark. Isang game lang yan. Babawi yan sa susunod. Kalma lang.

Your best basketball is still inside you Ateneo, now’s the time to let it out.

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